I’ve never been so conscious of what my kids looked like as I am when I walk around the world with them during school hours. Most of the time I think people assume the kid is sick, or we are tourists in a town of no tourist activiites so we are forced toward the banal, like, Barnes & Noble or Subway.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if we look homeless. I’m not great at choosing my clothes. It’s an Asperger thing, I think. Because lots of people with Asperger’s dress inappropriately, and in one of the millions of test I’ve taken, one of the questions was: Do you wear mismatched socks? And I remember thinking: really? this matters so much that people put it on a test? I thought it’s common knowledge that it’s impossible to match socks after doing the laundry. So i assumed everyone wears mismatched socks.I know my kids like their hair long, but I think about keeping it short because I seem to be unable to remember to make it look like someone combed it each morning. Actually, we don’t have a comb. As I write this I think that I have to buy combs and put them everywhere in the house in order to be a good mom. I will do that today.

I was struck, though, by the ads that are running with a Down’s Syndrome kid in them. Do we have new ideas for what kids should look like? I would not even have noticed the kid has Down’s Syndrome unless someone told me. But now I keep thinking about how we are expanding our idea for what “healthy kid” means, and so we are expanding our idea for what we expect kids to look like.

There’s an article on the Psychology Today site about how we need to stop stigmatizing kids for being fat. She points out that there are plenty of people who are fat even though they eat healthy food and that obesity is often a combination of genes and stress, and society’s response to being fat increases that stress factor geometrically. She encourages us to look at fat kids as normal kids.

But what I really want to know is whether broader acceptance of what kids look like means that I can let my kids flit around town among all the adults, looking like no one combs their hair?